Performance Management Company Blog

Ideas on People and Performance, Team Building, Motivation and Innovation

Tag: involvement and engagement

Teamwork takes too much time. NOT

I just wrote a blog response to a LinkedIn post that I read as saying the one needs time and networking and collaboration and coordination and all that in order to build relationships and to get things done over time. This was in a thread about an article about the goal of the workplace is NOT to make workers happy (written by a lawyer, so that is self-explanatory…).

Pop - pin hits balloon words borderAnyway, I will admit to being a little frustrated overall by that whole thread. And I personally know that some things take time but that going too slowly is a real problem in most organizations.

So, I pushed this out as my contribution to the thread:

Thinking a bit about Samantha’s post, I guess I “disagree” a little.

Reading the literature on organizational change and strategy implementation, it reads clearly that it generally takes 2 or more commonly 3 years to fully cascade a strategy or process from top to bottom in the large organizations. There is a lot of literature on this for the quality improvement initiatives (like ISO 9000) because they were so common a few years ago and often supported by college professors interested in publishing that kind of literature.

We see the same thing with strategy implementation today.

I often see that read as if ANY kind of teamwork or improvement initiative takes a whole big lot of time to generate any result. The simple Tuckman Model of Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing implies stages of group process and development and the requirement that lots of time and understanding and collaboration and networking and personal styles inventories and decision-making style inventories and all that are a requirement for any teamwork to occur.

Sweat the bullets. Be prepared for lots of spending and time investment and demands for more and more corporate support and organizational resources is the operating belief. You must generate full organizational commitment from top to bottom in order to expect any results.

Yeah. But as a direct result of a lot of the above kinds of thinking, a lot of people will choose to try nothing or to wait for clear supportive directives from above or to delay doing anything until it is proven safe to participate. The term “Early Adapter” is certainly an accurate one for the small percentage of people who choose to actually go out and TRY things!

On the other hand, though, I can present groups of people with a difficult challenge of managing limited resources and solving problems to optimize measurable results. I can present the systems and processes and give them 15 minutes of planning time to put a whole lot of things together so that they can take planned actions to succeed in a new initiative. And they do. They do put plans together and make decisions, take actions, and operate as an effective team of 5 to 6 people.

Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing? They simply do not have time for all that stuff. They are challenged and they must work together to generate actions and implement those decisions they made.

I see it in my Lost Dutchman team building game and we have great debriefing discussions about choices and resources and how to collaborate between tabletops back in the workplace. We see people make bad choices and get the immediate feedback needed to help correct decision-making errors.

And I can see it in workplace performance improvement initiatives when a small, engaged and motivated group of people define something problematic and then take the considered actions to address and solve that problem.

Trust is the residue of promises fulfilled, and it CAN take a long time to build. But I also think that we can generate a lot more workplace improvement than we do by simply finding problems and addressing them in work teams.

Engagement sucks. The vast majority of people are NOT engaged in their workplaces. And many are somewhat actively un-engaged and may even work as saboteurs (see http://is.gd/UMnEbe which is my blog post on sabotage and statistics and ideas).

So, why not Just Do It sometimes and build trust and collaboration forward as you go forward. Too much time seems to be spent taking too much time…

I can only think of how many people could be more involved and engaged and how many more problems in the workplace might be solved through teamwork and involvement.

We offer simple tools for identifying and solving problems, creating actions and activities that can help build trust and foster continuous improvement.

SWs Facilitation Guide $50

Have MORE Fun out there, too!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

 

Enthusiastic People Accomplish MORE

This is NOT rocket science, but the general reactions of so many make it seem like this should be a Big Surprise:

In places where there is high morale, there is higher performance.

This from Sirota Consulting and their research:

Crazy!  Ridiculous!  But in fact, we found that high-morale companies outperformed their industry competitors in 2012 by 368% when considering year-over-year stock market returns.  We discovered this when working on the second edition of our book, The Enthusiastic Employee.More specifically, we found that companies with high morale (those with scores at the 75th percentile or higher who ask “overall satisfaction with their company” on their annual employee attitude surveys) had stronger year-over-year stock performance than their industry counterparts.  These high-morale companies averaged a 15.1% improvement in their stock price, while their matched industry comparisons averaged only a 4.1% year-over-year improvement, a difference of 11 percentage points or 368%!  Moderate-morale companies (companies scoring between the 25th and 75th percentiles on employee attitude surveys) matched their industry counterparts (only a 0.8 percentage point difference), and the low-morale companies were 166% (or 13 percentage points) lower than their industry counterparts.

Are these results a fluke, a chance occurrence in this particular period? Well, we have been able to replicate the results every year we have analyzed employee morale measures against companies’ stock market performance.

They expand on the numbers and their conclusions in their blog post, which you can find here.

We feel the same way, and do not think it is real rocket science to figure out how to establish a positive work culture.

Square Wheels image: Celebration key to involving me

It is about innovation and improvement, celebration of accomplishments, and a continued focus on how to better compete and perform in the marketplace. It is about people — it is always about people!

As they said,

“In these companies, relationships between management and employees are based on mutual obligations grounded in performance; high levels of trust, transparency and collaboration; and shared rewards.  In both good and difficult business conditions, the employee enthusiasm generated by this kind of corporate culture is a huge factor in their business success.”

At PMC, we sell simple tools to involve and engage, to enable motivation and innovation and workplace improvement,

For the FUN of It!

square wheels author

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.

Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/
Scott’s blog on Poems and Quips on Workplace Improvement is here.

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Collaboration and Teamwork and dealing with Mud

People and Performance — Here are some simple poems and frameworks to get people thinking about issues and opportunities. The goal is to generate one good thought or insight into doing things differently.

Let’s start this with a simple poem to embellish the theme with a bit of my thinking about how things often work. So, here is an image / poem which stimulated the overall design of an illustrated article. Isn’t that how innovation really works for all of us? Anyway, here we go:

Mud Jeep yellow poemThis cartoon image comes from our team building exercise, The Search for The Lost Dutchman’s Gold Mine and is an integral part of our debriefing package. Players must deal with all sorts of mud to generate their successes.

In the game, mud on one of the selected routes to the mine causes teams to use extra resources and energy, just as it does in the real world. They know that it will cost that extra Fuel, but they are surprised by that nevertheless. Mud is the glop that people have to deal with so often in the workplace, taking the form of bureaucracy, politics, culture and the other things that do not support innovation and improvement. Mud simply bogs one down and costs extra energy to deal with it.

Mud also occurs when people choose to compete rather than collaborate, since one group will often create problems for another group that shares the same overall goal. This happens clearly in the Dutchman game. It also happens all the time in organizations — we call it Interdepartmental Collaboration! Mud is a pain to deal with — some might find it to be cement while others find it to work more like grinding paste, that grit that wears things out.

So, that first poem then got me working on the next few little ditties:

Alligators and sharks totally wired poem

They are out there too, like Spectator Sheep:

Spectator Sheep poem

So, things can then look something like this when it all comes together:

Mud Jeep RWs Alligator Sheep poemWe can make improvements. We must make improvements. Solutions abound. Ideas are everywhere. We just need people to consider other alternatives and choose to collaborate and cooperate and look to do things differently.

But progress forward requires employee engagement and involvement, leadership perspective and a team effort. We simply have to get the conversation rolling forward smoothly, along with shared goals and teamwork:

Spring of improvement and change poem

(Yeah, I do have fun with this stuff!)

For the FUN of It!

Scott SimmermanDr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant.
Connect with Scott on Google+ –

You can reach Scott easily at scott@squarewheels.com

Facilitating Engagement, Alignment and Involvement with Cartoons

Sometimes, I think that everyone already knows what I do and how simple it is to do and how well it works to involve and engage people in workplace improvement and get their ideas about what things need to be done differently.

Then, I have a phone conversation with someone and I cycle right back to the beginning, and I start talking about how simple and straightforward it can be to involve people because they want to solve problems and improve their workplace, given all the time then spend there… And THEN, I realize how much fun this all is and how wonderful the approach I have taken for the past 20 years really works.

Okay. The Situation:

The people are demotivated and unengaged (lots of statistics). And the theme of building some teamwork is suggested by the boss’ boss. Only there is no budget and no time. And no support from Training. “Just get it done!” we are told…

Okay. Pay $50 and get a toolkit containing worksheets and cartoons and instructions on how to use a simple cartoon to generate discussion of issues and ideas about what is not working and what could work better.

The toolkit starts by having you share an image just like this:

Ask: “How might this represent how most organizations really work?”

Then you can pretty much let things flow undirected. Let people think and consider, let them play with the ideas at hand and the issues and opportunities. We’ve figured out a lot of different ideas and frameworks for facilitation and structuring the resulting issues and opportunities, with handouts like, “What are some Square Wheels we deal with” and “What are some Round Wheel ideas to fix this Square Wheel” and stuff like that.

But a few colored marking pens and some easel pad paper are pretty much all you need to generate the gap between the way things are and the way they should be and to generate the teamwork and energy and focus needed for most people in most organizations to be motivated to close the gap

Heck, you can even select one person who has natural leadership skills and just let them self-direct the group in rolling downhill and forward.

I read these articles about how difficult it is to engage people in the workplace and how people are resistant to change and how to motivate people and all that. All it does is make things SEEM really complicated and confusing.

I will bet you can do all that with just the cartoon above. Ya think?

Oh, almost forgot. The Square Wheels One illustration above is how things work in MOST places. Here is how things tend to work in Asia:

 

Yep, that is just a little joke.

Have fun out there.

Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Keeping Things Simple – Involving and Engaging

In the past couple of days, I have been involved in some really long and even somewhat convoluted discussions about motivation and innovation and engagement and leadership and workplace creativity.

And an associate of mine in Asia had asked for my ideas for implementing workplace improvement. So, I offered up some simple ideas about involving and engaging people and then thought to blog about it a bit, since it seems to be a very common organizational development issue.

And, I could get into my own convoluted pedagogical diatribe and gobbledygook on all things, I prefer to keep it simple and straightforward. That’s just my nature.

How do we involve, engage, and motivate to generate innovation and workplace performance improvement? Here would be my four key suggestions:

  1. Ask, Ask, Ask, Ask, Ask, and Ask
  2. Listen and listen and listen
  3. Let things happen! Get out of the way!
  4. Provide resources and support.

One asks, in my model of the world, with a visual image and some moments of silence. Ask people how this illustration might represent how things really work in most organizations:

SWs One How Things Work ©

You will find a variety of ideas about facilitation of conversations and idea generation in other writings in these blog posts. Basically, give them some silent time and then allow tables of 4 to 6 people to talk.

Note that we sell a really easy to use toolkit of illustrations in powerpoint and handout worksheets as printable files, plus speaking notes. The basic package on general facilitation you can find here — $50 and complete — and you can always chat with me to define and refine your approach.

By using the cartoon approach, what will happen is that they will eventually to talking about the Square Wheels they deal with and the Round Wheels that already exist. And the reality is that once something is labeled a “Square Wheel,” people will want to fix it. So, this simple activity will set up 2, 3 and 4 on the list IF

YOU JUST STAY OUT OF THE WAY
AND NOT MEDDLE WITH THEM OR THE PROCESS.

Most people in most workplaces have a fairly realistic view of their reality and history that management is more The Party of No than the people in power who will enable them to actually make improvements and get things done.

Is this because I have a biased view of supervisors, managers and executives? NO. (Well, partly). It is really just my experienced view and based on observations as well as based on survey after employee survey over the past 30 years — Big Surveys done on thousands of people in dozens of countries and little ones done informally within workgroups using only pencil and paper. (See this great article around Jim Clifton, CEO of Gallup, and his views on this.)

Most surveys show that managers manage — they control and direct (and inhibit).

I was once involved with a Mission Statement for a large public utility and the Executives were asking if this phrase was a good one to include:

“We manage with uncompromising integrity.”

Well, the supervisors took one look at the above and quickly said, “No way.” They rewrote it to read,

“We manipulate with inflexible righteousness.”

So, my advice is to support where needed with resources, time, money, etc. but to get the heck out of the way and let the people play with the ideas until they can put them into an effective solution. It may take some trial and error (and look something like this:

Trial and Error. Do something and then step back from the wagon to see if there is something else that might be done…

If you are meddling, you will probably toss a Blame Frame around the above picture and generate defensiveness and an unwillingness to risk going forward. Blame Frames are really common in most organizations, and really easy to apply to innovations.

It is like the old Six Phases of a Typical Project Management Initiative:

  1. Enthusiasm
  2. Disillusionment
  3. Panic
  4. Search for the Guilty
  5. Punishment of the Innocent
  6. Praise and Honor for the Non-Participants
I suggest that you simply keep things simple. Look at what has worked in the past to generate improvements and successes and model your NEW initiatives around those old successful ones. Most crashes of small planes occur when the newbie pilot tries to control things too much — most small planes fly just nicely when you let go of the controls. Overcompensation is what causes the problems.
Have fun out there!
Scott Simmerman

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott at scott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

Best Square Wheels Answers

Joan had asked me to do some writing around using Square Wheels® for some marketing videos, wanting me to show the list of 300+ different responses that I had put into a document while collecting comments over the period of a few months.

That is 300 different ideas generated from workshop participants looking at Square Wheels One and generating responses that they shared from their tabletops. I actually gave up collecting once it became so hard to see if a great comment in a session was something that I already had or not – the list became too long. (AND, I know that I still get a couple every once in a while that I know are not on that list, but I am simply too lazy to try to keep updating!)

It seems more than mind-boggling that a simple cartoon like this:

Square Wheels One – our main illustration

would be able to generate that much creativity and engagement. You have to try it to actually see it.

But this activity and the generative responses  shows the power of group processing and creative thinking. It is still amazing to me and a real reason why I love using these tools in training sessions.

Individually, the most creative people tend to come up with 5 to 10 ideas and then  stop, thinking that, “What more could there be?.” Putting together a few people at a tabletop and allowing them to think individually and then collectively might generate 20 or so responses. something that we often collect when I have them write / mindmap their ideas onto a sheet of easel pad paper.

The fact that we can collect so many ideas over time is truly mind boggling…

I thought to try to do a short poll and see what some of our readers think along these same lines. We got a few responses but I think we might do this again in the future.

I’d love to know what ones you think are the best or even get NEW ideas from you on this. Make some comments if you have one you think better! After all, the Round Wheels really ARE already in the wagon!

Square Wheels has been incredibly more impacting than I had ever envisioned when I started playing with this back in 1993. I hear people tell me all the time that they have seen the illustration in a training program or a college class or in a textbook or that they have attended a session that I have done.

My goal is to use this and our other simple tools to make a real difference in the workplace, making managers more able to involve and engage people in workplace improvements and to generate different ideas for how to get more things done better.

Have FUN out There!  And support your people in generating new ideas for getting more better faster.

Brainstorming easel pad green

 

Visit our website for inexpensive, easy-to-use and bombproof tools.

 

Muscles slide in background

Dr. Scott Simmerman is a designer of team building games and organization improvement tools. Managing Partner of Performance Management Company since 1984, he is an experienced presenter and consultant. 
Connect with Scott on Google+ – you can reach Scott atscott@squarewheels.com

Follow Scott’s posts on Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/scottsimmerman/

<a rel=”author” href=”https://plus.google.com/u/0/114758253812293832123″ a>

Powered by WordPress & Theme by Anders Norén